July 14, 2016
Jobs created: Over 7 years: 45 2015: 2 full-time, 12 part-time
Trainees who have gone on to access employment: 2015: 20% moved into paid employment, 70% to further study
Proportion of revenue that comes from trade: 60-70% within Youthworx Productions
Stage of the enterprise: Partially sustainable
Geographical reach: Melbourne based, with projects around Australia
Re-engaging homeless youth through creative media and employment pathways
Youthworx is a social enterprise based in Melbourne’s inner north that uses creative media to re-engage homeless and at-risk young people in learning and skills development. The aim is to connect them to support and the community, and at the same time give them the tools and skills to generate a sustainable livelihood.
Youthworx Media is the skills development arm of the social enterprise, where digital and film production training programs are delivered by teams of professional artists, educators and youth workers. The social enterprise also has a film production company, Youthworx Productions, that creates professional videos with a social conscience.
With supported, accredited training programs, the organisation creates pathways through to skilled employment – either inside or outside Youthworx. The courses, run through Melbourne Polytechnic TAFE, cover digital storytelling, photography, filmmaking, and radio. The program leads to graduates gaining Certificates I-III in Creative Industries.
Across the social enterprise, Youthworx has 2 full-time and 12 part-time employees managing training programs and media projects.
Youthworx Media operates as a subsidised, NMIT accredited, workshop based training program funded by government and the Salvation Army. The film and radio focused program is tailored to young people interested in media who may have experienced homelessness or educational disadvantage. Students can remain with the course for up to 18 months with the potential to move into industry traineeships upon completion. Youthworx Media currently has capacity to work with up to 30 young people each year.
Involving a TAFE provider has created longer, more detailed skills pathways according to Youthworx Manager/Producer Jon Staley. “Eighteen months is enough time for students to move from initial engagement to immersion in creativity, skill building, and then an increased self-capacity,” he notes.
Youthworx Productions creates award winning films for a range of community and other organisations. The proceeds from Youthworx Productions go back into Youthworx Media, funding accredited training and work placement. Youthworx also provides very valuable work experience and is often the next step in employment for the newly qualified film trainees from Youthworx Media.
In the first half of 2015, 70% of Youthworx Media trainees went on to further study or training (such as Cert IV), while another 20% went on to employment. “When we started Youthworx it would have been probably 70% with no future pathway,” says Jon. “The significant numbers now continuing onto further education or employment represents a real maturing of our processes.”
This social enterprise provides 80 – 100 workshops per year with 30 students in accredited courses p.a.
Youthworx Productions has forged a niche within a highly competitive industry, and an impressive client list including the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, City of Port Phillip, Inclusion Melbourne and The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. There are currently five young trainees employed within the business.
Creating new structures with Social Traders
In 2012 Social Traders provided Youthworx with business development support through the Federal government funded National Social Enterprise Development Support (NSEDS) program. In 2014 Youthworx also participated in Social Traders’ The Crunch program, which helped them create a new leadership team structure with the inclusion of a marketing resource.
“Social Traders helped us focus on ‘big picture’ strategic thinking, not just day-to-day survival,” says Jon. “Our new leadership structure has created really strong ownership of the organisation. Our skilled and passionate team is really invested in how we develop going forward.”
Youthworx’ new marketing manager has helped them secure publicity, exposure through radio, an event at National Youth Week, and above all identified how to promote the enterprise publically.
An eye to the future
With a growing client base and repeat work, the scope and the size of projects has increased. As a result Youthworx will need to employ more young people in creative and technical roles to continue its high quality offering.
The Brunswick site limits the organisation to working with 30 young people per year. Expansion to other youth work sites could greatly increase Youthworx’ capacity, and plans are underway to extend to another site in outer metropolitan Melbourne, as well as a site in South Australia.
Jon is careful not to get beyond the organisation’s capabilities until the infrastructure and the creative and commercial capacity is firmly established. “It’s important to keep building on what you have, but We think it’s better to do small things very well on a solid foundation than big things badly.”